More Evidence Cars Will Never Be Sexy Again

Apple’s rumored takeover of McLaren is a symbolic final breath in the life of automotive desire.

The automobile has become the enemy of progress. It’s an unlikely outcome, from the vantage point of the 20th century. Not that long ago, cars were still unequivocal symbols of personal power—especially in America, where basic mobility is often impossible without one. But now cars are increasingly uncool. For one part, they’re a major source of carbon emissions, and thereby… read more

The Designer’s Job is to Make Things More What They Already Are

Ideas on design, adapted from Play Anything

As a game designer, I’m often asked what designers of all stripes can learn from games. Games, after all, appear to be magical objects. Dark ones, even. From Tetris to World of Warcraft, games have an uncanny ability to lure players in. Once hooked on a game, people will spend nearly endless time pursuing bizarre and arbitrary goals—like navigating configurations of four squares… read more

Russian Invasion

A review of Dan Ackerman’s The Tetris Effect

In an official photo from April 6, 1993, Hillary Clinton smirks slightly while playing a Nintendo Game Boy aboard a flight back to Washington, DC. The record doesn’t note what game she was playing, but surely it was Tetris, the cartridge that shipped with the popular Nintendo handheld upon release in 1989. When the photo was released last year, Clinton was already… read more

Why a Silicon Valley Founder Is Funding a Factory for Trump Memes

For wealthy geeks like Palmer Luckey who seek vengeance against the institutions they perceive to exclude them, “The Donald” is an obvious ally.

The classic battle between nerds and brutes is one of brains versus brawn. In the geek films of the 1980s that introduced and immortalized this conflict—Revenge of the Nerds, Weird Science, Ghostbusters, Sixteen Candles—the nerds are always outcasts and misfits. And these fables all end the same way. Through a combination of smarts and good fortune, the nerds demonstrate some… read more

How to Turn Life’s Challenges Into Play

Even as an adult (though also for kids)

One of the great psychological tricks of parenting is the false choice. “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?” you might ask in the morning, or “Do you want broccoli or green beans?” before dinner. In the face of panic, indecision or tantrum, winnowing down options can force Junior to focus, decide and move forward.… read more

How Apple Sells its Controlling Ways as Futurism

The company’s controversial design choices make it hard to imagine the alternatives they preclude.

“Our lightest product ever,” the page announces. Lithe and sleek like all Apple’s wares, the Apple Plug is a small, aluminum stopper meant to seal up the “archaic headphone connector” in your iPhone 6 or 6s. Machine-rounded at the end to match the device’s curve, it comes in gold, rose gold, and space gray to match every iPhone finish. Once… read more

This Wild Picture of Obama Wearing a VR Headset Explains Everything

40,000 years of visual media in one surprising White House photograph

  This remarkable photograph of President Obama wearing VR goggles in the West Wing looks like the very image of futurism. But new technologies will become old and familiar, just as all those before them have become invisible to contemporary eyes. But there they are, preserved in the amber of history, just waiting for the VR headset to join them.… read more

How Crystal Pepsi Anticipated Silicon Valley

The clear cola’s nostalgic relaunch harkens back to a time when the world’s problems seemed simple.

Like love or peace or tenderness, cola is not a simple thing, but a complex one. In the mid 1800s, John Pemberton invented the soft drink we know by the name by combining extracts of the African kola nut and the coca plant: Coca-Cola was born. But the taste of cola—originally a pharmaceutical tonic—had very little to do with either… read more

Facebook Is Not a Technology Company

Neither are Google nor Amazon. Here’s why that matters.

At the close of trading this Monday, the top five global companies by market capitalization were all U.S. tech companies: Apple, Alphabet (formerly Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. Bloomberg, which reported on the apparent milestone, insisted that this “tech sweep” is unprecedented, even during the dot-com boom. Back in 2011, for example, Exxon and Shell held two of the top… read more